Yesterday evening two exhibitions opened at ChinaHouse, linked by the fact the two artists are both Syrians and friends who are based here in Penang, and that both were curated by Ivan Gabriel, but very different in every other way. One is outside, one is inside; one is sculpture, one is painting and mixed media, one is figurative and the other is abstract. it is a wonderful opportunity to admire complementary and contrasting exhibitions by two very talented Penang artists.

To begin on the inside, upstairs at Art Space hangs the exhibition of Alaa Shasheet. Alaa’s large, bold canvases use strong graphical compositions and lines to portray human feelings and reflect emotions. Black is the dominant colour in many of his works, with bright red a frequent motif too. The striking paintings are made less brutal by Alaa’s expert use of other media, such as sand, to soften the texture. In a nod to Open Studios Penang, Alaa has laid out a table with the tools of his trade for visitors to look at, including the enormous brushes he deftly wields to create the strong lines of paint on his canvases.

Alaa Shasheet’s exhibition, entitled (Re)Birth, will hang at ChinaHouse Art Space until October 31st 2019.  Opening hours are 10am until 10pm daily.

On the ground floor in the courtyard between the two shophouses that make up ChinaHouse is Aboud Fares’s latest exhibition. Aboud has never been a fan of giving his sculptures names and takes this even further this time by calling the entire exhibition Untiitled (extra i intentional).  The sculptures have been arranged sympathetically and magically around the courtyard with two actually in the water of the fish pond. With every exhibition, admirers of Aboud’s work can see how both his techniques and his artistic sensibilities improve and mature. These are most definitely his best works yet, displaying parts of bodies, which he cleverly tapers off, leaving the eye to fill in the complete picture.

Untiitled will be at ChinaHouse until November 11th and is also open from 10am until 10pm daily.